Listen to Audio (5:30)
Opening Comments -
"Fantastic college basketball game. Not the prettiest game ever, but sometimes you have to win like that. I told Bo, 'I'm glad I don't play you anymore.'
"It was a difficult game for us - Jordan Taylor just dominates the ball so effectively. But I've got to congratulate Kendall and Dexter because it's hard to guard that guy ... he is really, really hard to guard.
"I was very pleased with what we did defensively. We knew they were going to shoot threes - they missed some open ones but we also made them miss some of them. Rebounding-wise, we knew they'd been doing a great job and we wanted to do a good job there.
"Then on the offensive end, I called a set play for Harrison out of bounds underneath called 'Quick' and he made the three and that seemed like it got him energized and he made two or three more shots after that.
"John on the backboards, Harrison's offense, Kendall and Dexter doing a great job for us defensively. It was a heck of a basketball game. And 16-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half also helps you."
Listen to Audio (3:07)
Was that the halfcourt battle you guys expected?
"We wanted to run a bit more. They did a good job controlling the tempo and we did a great job of not getting frustrated while on defense. Playing against a team like that, that runs its set very well and shoots the ball well, they're just waiting for you to make one mistake. Aside from the last two minutes where we had mental lapses, we did a great job of just being aware and being mentally tough enough to do what's important."
What specifically turned the tide in the second half?
"Defensively. We stopped giving them second chance opportunities and because we were getting stops we could get out on the break. H hit some big time shots for us. When he's hot, we want to just keep feeding him in situations like that."
Listen to Audio (5:33)
Coach Williams said he ran a set play for you and that three you hit seemed to energize you. You seemed to go on a tear there ...
"Coach ran a good out of bounds play that got me an open three to cut it to two and then we were able to go from there. ... Just get back in the flow of the offense. We were kind of stagnant. It was a lower scoring game so just getting buckets and getting in the flow helped a lot. ... They're not really a deny team, they sag off and have help in the middle, so you have to move to get some openings."
Was that the point where you felt like you needed to be more assertive?
"It was 36-31, that was kind of the go-ahead. Thinking back to the UNLV game, that was the area where it could go to down 12 or a tie game. So I think that was big. We were in that similar situation last time and let that get out of hand - we knew we had to contest the three and get shots on offense."
Listen to Audio (2:16)
How important was it to hit those free throws in the second half?
"It was really important. It got us the lead - they hit some big threes late, so thank God we hit those free throws because it'd have been a different story if we had not."
How much do you feel like you owe Kentucky one after the way last year ended?
"You always feel like you owe a team that beat you - especially when they beat us when it all mattered in the Elite Eight. We are going to come out there fired up as well and I think we'll be ready for them ... I can't watch that (game tape from last year) because it brings back all kinds of memories and what ifs, so I don't watch it. We'll watch film on them this year. We're going to go down there Saturday, Rupp is probably the craziest place I've played at since I've been here, so it's going to be fun."
Listen to Audio (5:41)
How tough was it possession-to-possession defending them?
"It's kind of nerve-wracking just knowing that you have to play for 35 seconds every possession just because one breakdown and they'll capitalize on it. They were very good at that - I got sucked in a couple times, helped too much and my guy hit two threes. You've just got to make sure you stick to your principles."
Harrison mentioned you guys shot a ton of free throws when you got back from Vegas. You have a count on that?
"I don't think we have a count, it was just everyone individually. It wasn't Coach saying you had to put up so many free throws, we just knew it was something we had to work on it and the game was probably going to come down to it."
After this halfcourt battle, you're going to be running up and down the court on Saturday against Kentucky ...
"You'd think this isn't as tiring as the other one, but they're both tiring because Wisconsin is always moving and you're chasing them, whereas the other you're running full court. It'll be a change of style ... You know somewhat their strategy, but it's completely different because of the different players. We'll have to have a different scouting report, learn new players, and adjust accordingly. I've watched them play twice - they're very athletic, very talented, they do a great job on the break, so it'll be interesting to see if we can contain them."
What kind of a matchup will that be for you against Anthony Davis, who is such a different type of player?
"It'll be interesting. Playing against John is definitely going to be able to help me. My brother Cody has told me a lot about him since he's in the same class - he's long, athletic, and can create a lot of problems with his shotblocking ability."
Listen to Audio (6:05)
"If Jordan got 20 shots in the gym in practice he will knock a lot of those down. He didn't take any bad ones. It's just a hard fought game. The jumper that he hit towards the end is more of the mechanics we are use to. We needed to shoot it from some other spots to take the pressure off him, and it's a team game. Jordan did a good job of taking care of the ball without turning it over. I don't remember him having any turnovers, but we could have shot it a little better. ...
"They're long and quick and getting good looks isn't the easiest thing in the world. It was hard to get good looks. That was as hard fought a game as I have ever been in as a coach."